As the air turns brisk and a quiet chill descends upon cities across the country, couples begin to plan their winter escapes. Visions of walking hand-in-hand on the beach or rocketing down the slopes with skis strapped to their feet entice travelers to make their dreams a reality. Whether your winter fantasies entail sand and sun or a snowy mountain road, beat the winter blues and plan a romantic getaway for two at one of these ideal destinations.
1. Escape to an island paradise for a tropical respite from the cold.
In Hawaii, even the winter days and nights feel like summer. Sunny skies—and occasionally warm rain showers—can make freezing temperatures and harsh snow seem like a thing of the past. Though all of the islands offer a unique experience, Kauai’s lush greenery and secluded location offer a perfect respite for couples seeking an escape. Learn to surf on the island’s South Shore, where Poipu Beach offers consistent waves for students of any level, or for more adventurous couples, ride tandem on a 1,800-foot zip-line past the Ha’upu Mountains. With multiple options for fresh, local cuisine, and breathtaking views of mountains or beaches in every direction, the Garden Isle is a tranquil destination for honeymooners or just couples looking to take a scenic detour from everyday life.
2. Hit the slopes stateside or venture overseas to a European ski chalet.
Embrace the snow by partaking in a favorite winter pastime: skiing. Though couples won’t want to navigate the trails while holding hands, the fresh mountain air will soothe their souls while surrounded by a snowy white wonderland. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, consistently ranked among the top U.S. ski resorts, provides an off-the-beaten path mountain experience with arguably some of the best terrain of any slope in the country. In addition to great skiing, Jackson Hole has also enjoyed a boom in its restaurant scene, with several contemporary eateries for couples in search of a place to celebrate a special occasion. Alternately, those heading overseas can take advantage of European ski resorts offering unique stays. There are several private chateaus sprinkled throughout the countryside in France, Switzerland and Italy, but among the most popular for couples is Petit Marmotte in the Courchevel resort area. Rustic and romantic, the one-bedroom chalet offers travelers the opportunity to ski right up to the front door, as well as take advantage of the main resort’s spa for a couple’s massage.
3. Visit a hot springs resort for a relaxing weekend getaway.
A perfect blend of extreme temperatures, hot springs offer a compromise between lounging near the ocean and cozying up under a blanket. Located in areas predominantly known for an array of winter activities such as skiing, skating and sledding, these resorts provide hot mineral pools for couples to unwind together after a long day of snow-filled fun. Among the top states offering hot springs include outdoorsy locales like Alaska, Montana and Colorado.
4. Take a cruise to view a stunning display of the Northern Lights.
Lovebirds can forget the fireworks as they sneak a kiss under the brilliant display of the awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis. Winter is the best time of year to witness the Northern Lights, with the best perspectives offered from points close to the Arctic Circle—for example, Alaska, Canada, Iceland and Norway. On board a cruise ship, couples can enjoy nature’s most beautiful show without the distraction of city lights and sounds. While winter cruises can be hard to come by, a handful of specialty ships operate specifically to bring travelers close to this natural miracle. Try booking a pair of tickets on board the Norway-based Hurtigruten line, or Alaska’s Holland America ships. Even a short glimpse of the lights is a moment that a couple can share for a lifetime.
5. See the city of love at its most festive.
Paris in the winter is a serene experience. Tourist numbers are low, and the charming cafes and city streets are alive and buzzing with locals preparing to celebrate the holiday season. In addition to the traditional tourist hubs—the Arc du Triomphe, the Louvre—the Champs-Elysees is a stunning sight, with lighted trees lining the street. The Eiffel Tower also provides a romantic spot for couples; not only is it the location of numerous wedding proposals, in some years it features an ice skating rink tucked away on the first level, approximately 200 feet in the air.
6. Enjoy a tranquil New England landscape and cozy up by the fireplace at Martha’s Vineyard.
Locals know off-season at Martha’s Vineyard as a secret time of year. As the last car departs after Labor Day, taking with it the echoing horns and excited screams of children, the island becomes quiet. Couples who wish to slip unnoticed into the peaceful neighborhoods of this New England gem are welcomed. With the tourist season over, there’s no need to make a reservation to dine by candlelight at Le Grenier or another restaurant designed to offer an intimate evening for two. After strolling the silent streets where colonial and Victorian homes share a rich history with the town, light a fire and share a blanket before dozing off under the New England stars.
From a cozy cabin in the mountains to a beachside locale, there are countless ways for couples to escape this winter. Romance is in the air and winter provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate with a trip to one of these destinations for an intimate experience for two.